First Impressions

Posted on September 28th, 2010 by

First Impressions: “Wow there are a lot of cats, watch out for crazy motorcycle drivers [I was two inches from being run over the other day. Greece is number 2 in Europe for vehicle accidents and deaths due to crazy drivers.], oh cool, I can see the Parthenon from my academic center.

My first day in Greece was quite the adventure. For starters, my first few hours experiencing Greece was spent sleeping on the airport floor. You see, my flight landed at 3 am and the CYA [College Year in Athens–my school] greeting party did not arrive until 9am. I found a cozy corner and took a nap on the floor. I tied my luggage to my body because I was a little paranoid something might happen to it. Since it cost like 45 Euros to take a taxi from the airport to my school I opted to brave public transportation…I got a little lost on the way. Any by lost, I mean I wandered around Athens for 30 minutes in long pants, a long t-shirt [it was like 90 degrees out], and carrying my suitcase behind me. Throw my blonde hair and pasty complexion into the mix and we’ll just say I did not blend in very well. haha. I eventually made it back to my school after being lost for thirty minutes, I found some nice people in a hotel that gave me a map and pointed me in the right direction.

Cool statue I saw when I got lost.

I’m attending College Year in Athens [ΔΙΚΕΜΕΣ is its Greek name] for one semester. The school is only for study abroad students, meaning you cannot obtain a degree there. The first few days was spent in orientation activities. I tried my first Greek cuisine at one of the local restaurants commonly called a Taverna [ταβερνα]; It was delicious. The food here is so good, especially the Gyros, by far my favorite thing to eat, that and Tsasiki sauce. Unfortunately I am not a fan of feta cheese which is used in almost everything, but i’m trying to acquire the taste. Classes started Thursday, September 2nd. I am taking accelerated Modern Greek for students with a background in Ancient Greek, Advanced Ancient Greek: Thucydides, The Development of Athenian Democracy, and The Archaeology of Athens. The coolest class by far is my Archaeology one, because 90% of class time is spent on-site around Athens. I also really enjoy my modern Greek class, although it was very overwhelming at first because the pronunciation of letters is way different than what I was used to in Ancient Greek. Classes are not too difficult, but with all there is to do in Greece, accomplishing homework is that much harder.

Adjusting to life in Athens wasn’t as hard as I expected. I mean probably the hardest part is grocery shopping because none of the labels are in English letters. I live in an apartment with three other girls, Jessie, Kasey, and Allison–they’re pretty cool. The people in Greece are really nice and welcoming. I live in the neighborhood of Pangrati [Πανγκρατι] and I look forward to getting to know the area and people over the next few months and learning how to live like a real Greek.

Weird escalator/moving sidewalk thing in the supermarket.

I feel like Greece along with the rest of Europe is completely infested with useless pigeons. Besides the abundance of pigeons there are millions of stray cats that wander around. People feed them and neuter them and they are really friendly. I was really surprised by how urbanized the city was. I guess since my mind was so filled with the ancient history of the city that I expected it to be a little more back-water. The most consistent characteristic of the city is the miles upon miles of triangular shaped apartment buildings.

But the ugliness of all these buildings also draws attention to the most unique aspect of this city, which is that you can be walking down the street minding your own business and all of a sudden you’re walking under the arch of an ancient gate or walking by the Athenian Agora. It blows my mind to be seeing all these sites and artifacts that i’ve read about in history textbooks for years. Just the other day I had class in the National Archaeological Museum. As soon as I walked into the section on Minoan history, I saw the gold mask of Agamemnon smack dab in the center of the exhibit. I got super excited.

How cool is it that I saw this with my own two eyes?

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